Egypt: First trial session of Patrick George Zaki

30/09/2021
Urgent Appeal

New information
EGY 001 / 0220 / OBS 012.1
Trial / Arbitrary detention /
Torture /Judicial harassment
Egypt
September 30, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Egypt.

New information:

The Observatory has received new information about the first trial session of Patrick George Zaki, a postgraduate student at Bologna University (Italy) and a Gender and Human Rights researcher at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

On September 28, 2021, during Patrick George Zaki’s hearing before Mansoura II State Security Misdemeanors (Emergency) Court, his lawyer requested to delay the hearing in order to review the case files, as it was the first time the lawyer was allowed to get an official copy of the files. The judge postponed the hearing to December 7, 2021. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Patrick George Zaki remained in remand detention in Tora prison in Cairo.

On September 14, 2021, the first trial session of Patrick George Zaki was held after 19 months of pretrial detention. He appeared before Mansoura II State Security Misdemeanors (Emergency) Court, whose rulings are not subject to appeal. Representatives from the embassies of Italy, Germany, Canada and a lawyer from the European Union were able to attend the hearing, which was then adjourned to September 28, 2021. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, it remains unclear how long it will take for this exceptional court to reach a verdict.

On September 13, 2021, Patrick George Zaki was indicted by the State Security Supreme Prosecution (SSSP) on charges of “spreading false news inside and outside of the country” based on Articles 80 (D), and 102 (bis) of the Penal Code. If found guilty, he could face up to five years in jail. Other charges are still pending against him; however, Patrick George Zaki has not yet indicted in consideration to them.

The charges are based on an article Patrick George Zaki published on the independent digital media Daraj, in July 2019. His article, “Displacement, Killing and Restriction: A Week’s Diaries of Egypt’s Copts” presents his reaction, as a Christian Egyptian citizen, to current events regarding the Coptic community in the country.

The Observatory recalls that, on February 7, 2020, Patrick George Zaki was arrested at Cairo airport upon his arrival from Italy and taken into the custody of Egypt’s National Security Investigations (NSI) at the airport and then held incommunicado for the following 24 hours. He was beaten, subjected to electric shocks and threatened during this time.

The Observatory further recalls that the criminalisation and arbitrary detention of Patrick George Zaki came amid a renewed crackdown on human rights defenders, activists, journalists and civil society in Egypt, that arose with the outbreak of the demonstrations across the country on September 20, 2019, protesting against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The Observatory condemns the ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Patrick George Zaki, which seem to be only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory urges the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Patrick George Zaki, to drop all charges against him and to put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all the human rights defenders in Egypt.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Egypt asking them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Patrick George Zaki as well as of all human rights defenders in Egypt;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Patrick George Zaki and all the human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in Egypt, as their detention is arbitrary since it only seems to aim at punishing them for their human rights activities;
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Patrick George Zaki, as well as against all human rights defenders in Egypt, and ensure that they are able to carry out their activities without hindrance;
iv. Carry out an independent, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned acts of torture and ill-treatment against Patrick George Zaki in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law.

Addresses:

· President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, H.E. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Email: p.spokesman@op.gov.eg, Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial
· Prime Minister, Mr. Mustafa Kemal Madbouly Mohamed. Email: pm@cabinet.gov.eg
· Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mahmoud Tawfik, Email: center@iscmi.gov.eg
· Head of the Egyptian Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Mr. Tarek Radwan, Email: humanrightscomplaints@parliament.gov.eg
· Mr. Mohamed Fayeq, President of the National Council for Human Rights, Email: nchr@nchr.org.eg
· H.E. Mr. Ahmed Ihab Abdelahad Gamaleldin, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Egypt to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Email: mission.egypt@bluewin.ch
· Embassy of Egypt in Brussels, Belgium, Email: embassy.egypt@skynet.be
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Egypt in your respective country.

***
Paris-Geneva, September 30, 2021

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18
• Tel OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39

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